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updated: 6/5/2014 7:33 AM

Editorial: Positive steps toward diversity, equality

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  • Catherine Verbic, left and her wife Jevelyn Verbic, right, converted their civil union to a marriage license at the DuPage County Clerk's office in Wheaton on Monday.

       Catherine Verbic, left and her wife Jevelyn Verbic, right, converted their civil union to a marriage license at the DuPage County Clerk's office in Wheaton on Monday.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The lessons from that adage are why we must celebrate and acknowledge positive change in ways large and small when it comes to diversity and equality.

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Naperville is a good place to start, as stories in Tuesday's Daily Herald attest. First was the report detailing the first suburban gay couples getting marriage licenses or changing their civil union status to marriage. This change, one we supported, has been a long time coming.

In the story by staff writers Robert Sanchez and Russell Lissau, Naperville couple Catherine and Jevelyn Verbic, who were joined in a civil union in 2012 and as of Monday are now officially married, realized a dream they had hoped to achieve by the time they were 60.

"I'm 54 and she's 56," Catherine Verbic said. "So the world made it right under the wire for us."

Yes, the suburbs are changing. And it's heartening to see schools leading some of that change. Naperville Unit District 203, for example, is expanding its diversity efforts to appeal to and serve all students. Staff writer Marie Wilson reports this week that the district's diversity committee is looking at ways to better reflect student diversity within the teaching and administrative ranks.

"They're having meaningful conversations about inclusive environments," said Superintendent Dan Bridges.

Similar valuable discussions are sure to be part of the culture in Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 under the helm of its first Latino superintendent, Fred Heid, whose first day in the district was Monday.

The sixth largest school district in the state, District 300 has a student population that is about one-third Hispanic. Hiring a Hispanic top administrator is a forward-thinking move by the school board and one that should benefit not only the large Hispanic student population but the community as a whole. He expects to make a difference. "Anybody who knows me knows that I'm truly passionate about teaching and learning. I'm not an office person," Heid said.

Yet that kind of hire is still somewhat rare in the suburbs, despite changing demographics. And this region is not alone.

Last week Google reported that its workforce was heavily white and male, with just 2 percent of its 50,000 employees black, 3 percent Hispanic and 30 percent women. Google executives, however, recognize that diversity is the key to success.

"We're the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be ...," one executive said.

Equality in marriage. Schools expanding their reach to encompass all cultures. Agencies developing and installing leaders who represent the great variety in our culture. These are all examples of important changes taking place around us, but they also represent an affirmation of our long-standing core values of equality, fairness and justice. As we said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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